Sunday, 11 October 2015

Picture this

Week 3: Top 14 Perform (Movie Week) - 10 October 2015

Last week: everyone attempted to up their game as the first elimination loomed, and some were more successful than others: Ainsley, Carol, Jay and Katie all managed a slight uptick in their scores, while Anthony, Daniel, Georgia, Iwan and Jeremy all lost a few points. (Bear in mind that means everyone else received the exact same score in week one and week two, which is kind of alarming in itself.) Iwan went home to the surprise of pretty much nobody (except perhaps Iwan himself, who seemed to have planned at least six weeks' worth of reality TV redemption arc that he never got to use), while Tristan continued his unbroken streak of appearances in the dance-off as Jamelia joined Iwan in the bottom two.

This week: it's week three, which of course means it's Movie Week, so we get some grainy footage from training promising us joy, tears, and apparently Georgia having a full-on tantrum over not being able to get her routine right. Either that or the agony of having to listen to Sam Smith's shitty Bond theme over and over again while she trains has broken her, in which case she has my deepest sympathies. I'd rather take a job as Katie Hopkins' social media manager than ever listen to that again.

Titles! It's rare that anyone actually peaks, skill-wise, during the three seconds of choreography they shoot for this, but I think looking at the camera and going "wheeee!" is probably about the only thing Iwan Thomas managed to do convincingly all series.

We open with - what else? - a movie-themed routine, starting with Aljaž and Janette pretending to be award presenters introducing the nominees for best motion picture. They are an absolutely adorable couple, but the height difference will never not be amusing to me. Janette must get such a crick in her neck looking at him (unless she just settles for staring at his torso at all times, which is an absolutely valid life choice, no judgement here). It's not just the pros taking part either - the celebs also join in the routine to 'Hooray For Hollywood', including Katie as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Anthony and Georgia as...a guy in a waistcoat and a woman in a big floaty white dress? It's not a visual reference that I get, so I'm just going to guess it's Gone With The Wind and please correct me if I'm wrong. Jeremy is Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Daniel and Carol are Leo and Kate in Titanic (Carol giving it her best acting face and Daniel being as utterly stoic as ever), Kellie is riding a bike suspended from the ceiling being Elliott from E.T., then Peter is riding a horse with Jamelia, Kirsty and Anita as his sexy dancing cowgirls (you can claim this is a Western if you like, I'm going to go ahead and assume it's Coyote Ugly). Next, Jay appears as Indiana Jones, whips the floor a few times and generally looks a bit lost, Janette sprinkles glitter all over a top-hat-and-tailsed-up Ainsley and makes him start dancing, and Helen is Marilyn Monroe just as she will be for the rest of the night because presumably Vicky Gill ran out of money and/or fabric at this point. Ah well.

Tess and Claudia arrive and - wonders will never cease - Tess is wearing a shoulderless red gown that looks very nice and leaves me no room for criticism. Claudia's in a sparkly silver bodice top, black trousers and a shade of lipstick that I'm not entirely sure about. In keeping with the theme, Claudia expresses her thanks to the cast and crew, with a specific shout out to Michaela who applies her fake tan every week. "What that woman can do with a hosepipe," she adds, and let's not dwell on hosepipes and the application thereof backstage on Strictly Come Dancing, that's a scandal too far for my liking. Tess refers to tonight's show as a "feature-length special" which means yes, it is exactly the same duration as last week's show, I hope you've got the appropriate lumbar support.

The judges enter to an orchestral flourish and a brief reprise of 'Hooray For Hollywood', which is comically elaborate but at least it doesn't involve The Strictly, and then we welcome our Strictly stars and try to guess which movie characters they're playing just from the costumes: Kellie & Kevin (clearly Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker), Anthony & Oti (Rocky and Sexy Apollo Creed, apparently), Anita & Gleb (...Flavia Cacace and Edward Cullen?) [She reminded me a bit of Tess from Casualty - Rad] , Daniel & Kristina (Danny Zuko & Virginal Sandy), Katie & Anton (Jessica and Roger Rabbit, perhaps?), Ainsley & Natalie (two penguins), Helen and Aljaž (Marilyn Monroe and Able Seaman), Georgia & Giovanni (Punny Bondgirlname & James Bond), Jeremy & Karen (some dude in a top hat and his lady friend), Jamelia & Tristan (glamorous international traveller and a scruffy bellboy? I'm starting to struggle now), Peter & Janette (Russell Brand and Katy Perry in Part Of Me 3D), Carol & Pasha (I have no jokes for this one, this is so clearly South Pacific I can't see it as anything else), Jay & Aliona (Matthew McConaughey in just about any role you can think of, and Jessie J) and Kirsty & Brendan (zombie werewolf Scooby Doo? THE HELL?). Well, that was...quite something. I almost feel like I need to go and have a sit in a dark room and think about what just happened, and nobody has even danced yet.

Carol and Pasha are up first. In her VT, Carol says that she really enjoyed last week's performance and felt that it was a definite improvement from the previous week. That's nice for her and everything, but I think she's missing the fact that Pasha had his shirt done up the entire time, so from where I was sitting it was a bit of a downgrade. She's pleased that the judges have already seen an improvement in her dancing and hopes this is the start of a positive trend. So far the show's been racing through Carol's potential VT storylines under the presumption that she's not going to be around for terribly long, so this week we get the obligatory "day in the life" segment where Tess's voiceover refers to her as "a weather A-lister" (honestly, I would love to see that official ranking. Is she above or below Tomasz Schafernaker? What about Alex Deakin? Where does Eye-Roll Wendy fit in? Whither Tall Chris?) and Carol explains that she starts work at 4am to prep her bits for Breakfast, and of course that slug-a-bed Pasha doesn't roll-up until 6:30am. Sadly we still don't get the segment that I was hoping for where Carol shows Pasha how to do a weather forecast (COME ON LOUISE RAINBOW MAKE IT HAPPEN) but instead she uses her green-screen studio to project a desert island beach behind them and get them in the mood for their quickstep.

They're dancing to 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair' from South Pacific, as predicted, although Carol's hair-washing action at the top of the routine looks a bit more like she's inspecting herself for lice. Now, the important thing to note about this routine is that naval officer Pasha is wearing insanely tight trousers and his butt looks tremendous, but I suppose I should also address the actual dancing. Let's do the positives first: Carol's footwork is reasonably good, and she keeps up with Pasha pretty well. It also looks far more like an actual quickstep than whatever it was Peter was doing last week. That said, it's still quite sluggish, and the top half of her body is a bit of a mess - her hold is very limp. It's a good effort in a tricky genre, but not quite as impressive as last week.

Tess welcomes the singers and the band while Carol gets her breath back, and Len opens for the judges by saying that it had more content than he's seen from Carol in previous weeks, and he loves seeing how much she enjoyed herself. He spotted a few "incidents" in the routine, but says that Carol is always lovely to watch. Bruno calls it more of a "lukewarm breeze" than a tropical heatwave, and says that the quickstep should look like running on hot coals, not "shuffling on damp sand" like Carol was. He likes that she tried to go for content, but there were too many mistakes. Craig calls it "limp, lame and very lacklustre". Darcey, bless her, tries to lighten the mood by saying that Carol has achieved a lot and there was more dance content in there this week, but tells Carol to be glued to Pasha next time because that will sort out any weakness in her core and her topline. I'm pretty sure being glued to Pasha would strengthen my core if you know what I mean and I'm sure you do at this point.

Tess sends them off to the Clauditorium, and there's an usherette at the bottom of the stairs handing out popcorn (haven't they learned that popcorn and live television are not a good mix? Did they not see what happened to Gethin Jones on Friday's It Takes Two?). Claudia tells Carol that she loves how she even greeted the most damning of feedback with a big smile (I'm starting to think she should marry Daniel and together they could run the most terrifying Mafia family imaginable), and Pasha tells us that spending a day on Carol's clock was exhausting, and he doesn't know how she does it. He adds that he was very proud of Carol because she was flying like a butterfly, and that's what he wanted. Scores: Craig 3, Darcey 5, Len 5, Bruno 4 for a total of 17 - a dip of three points from last week. Carol grins that her mouth's gone all dry, and Claudia counsels her to stay away from the popcorn in that case. Carol would do well to take heed - Claudia hosts The Film Programme, there's nothing she doesn't know about popcorn.

Anthony and Oti are next, and in his VT Anthony reflects on his poor showing with the judges last week, which he admits took the wind out of his sails a bit. Nonetheless, Oti asserts that this is a gradual process and he's getting there, bit by bit. This week they're doing a paso doble to 'Eye Of The Tiger' from Rocky (am I alone in thinking that the actual Rocky theme would make better paso music? Maybe that's more of a tango), and Anthony admits he doesn't know anything about the paso, but he does at least know boxing. So of course, they go off to a boxing ring so he can teach her how to spar, because that's far more important than her teaching him how to dance. Oti turns out to be pretty good, possibly even a ringer for Strictly Come Boxing 2016. Which is what really matters here, right?

As ever, the problem with Anthony more than anything is his injured shoulder, and the fact that there's not really a lot that Oti can get him to do with his right arm, so he spends most of the routine with it just sort of hanging there like a claw. I know this isn't anybody's fault (other than whoever made the call to cast Anthony on this series when he's clearly too badly injured to be able to do it properly) [So ridiculous - Rad and her poorly arms], but it is really hard to ignore, and particularly in a dance like this where arm-shaping is so important, it really does hamper the visual spectacle. They're both doing their best given the circumstances, but even the "boxing" section in the middle looks lame because of his injury. Plus the song keeps distracting me because I'm just waiting for Kim Davis to walk out waving to God or something.

Bruno's a bit cross because Anthony is young and fit and should be applying himself, and this was just "a mish-mash of martial arts" - the timing wasn't there. Anthony says that he just got excited because of the atmosphere of the studio and the audience. Craig says that he can appreciate the effort that Anthony is making, but the routine lacked shaping and the appels didn't have any style or purpose. Darcey thinks that this was Anthony's best dance so far, and he had the energy and conviction, but when he did his dramatic poses, the energy flagged a little bit. Len just screams GURTCHA several times and says that this is what you're supposed to do in a paso doble. I pray for all our sakes that this is not factually accurate. [Oh, but the thought of Daniel screaming GURTCHA throughout his paso is kind of enticing - Rad]

Up in the Clauditorium, Anthony reveals that 'Eye Of The Tiger' is one of the songs on his pre-bout playlist, so I'm guessing the world of boxing isn't exactly an imaginative one. He thinks the song maybe pumped him up too much here, because he got caught up in it and started singing along - but hey, he's on Strictly, if you can't have fun here, where can you? Tell that to Sunetra Sarker. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 6, Len 5, Bruno 4 for a total of 19. Claudia asks if they're disappointed to have received the same score as they got last week, and Oti insists that she isn't - Anthony is working hard and really wants to learn, and she couldn't be more proud of him.

Katie and Anton are our third couple of the night, and they'll be dancing to 'Oh Pretty Woman' from the film Pretty Woman, with Katie in the Julia Roberts role. Tess insists "that will not be a problem for our lovely Katie" do know Vivian Ward was a prostitute, right guys? (Actually, now that I think about it, Holly Golightly was a prostitute in the books, so this is the second time they've made Katie play a sex worker tonight. Are they trying to tell us something?) Katie says that there was so much to remember in her tango that it was a bit of a blur at the time (lol so drunk) but she was very pleased with how it all went. In their rehearsals for the routine, Katie worries that Anton is getting too into the Richard Gere role as he's bringing her jewellery and spending all of his time on his laptop "playing the Strictly stockmarket" (is that what the kids are calling it these days?). Still, probably best they went with this angle rather than Anton worrying about Katie disappearing into Soho wearing a corset and fuck-me boots, I suppose. (Also, they soundtrack this with 'It Must Have Been Love', so that's Rad on-side for the week [Correct.  I did worry for a moment I'd have to hear the singers attempt it though - Rad]. Well-played, Katie and Anton.)

Their cha cha cha is themed around the bit in the movie where Vivian goes shopping on Rodeo Drive, and Katie's legs look as fabulous as they always do, but...well, it's Anton Latin, isn't it? Katie does a reasonable job of it, but her balance is a little off and the whole thing is quite staccato. Katie's clearly enjoying it, but I'd say it's her weakest routine so far both in terms of content and execution, which is a bit of a shame. Still, best to get this sort of thing out of the way early in the competition when there are plenty of human shields left to protect her, I suppose.

Craig likens it to a bad internet connection - it kept stopping and starting, and it was very stiff. Quite an insight into Craig's browsing habits there, wasn't it? Darcey says that Katie looks the part (seriously, guys, consider what "the part" is before saying stuff like that) but she was expecting more from her - possibly too much - she saw "glimmers of great leg action" but there was no follow-through. Len echoes the idea that it's all about expectations here, but says that everyone's entitled to a bad dance and hopefully this was Katie's only one. Anton bristles at this and says that the content isn't Katie's responsibility, that's on him, and it's up to him to pitch the routine where he thinks is best for her and he doesn't think she should be penalised for that. Yes, but they can't score her for stuff that she isn't actually doing, can they? (Also, a-lol at Anton proper kicking off now that they've adjusted their expectations for Katie to "what she is capable of" rather than "what Anton's partners are normally capable of" and they're no longer getting points just for completing the routine without falling into the audience.) Bruno's all "yes, but this is about dancing, not posing, now give Katie some proper choreography worthy of her abilities, you twit".

They scoot up to the Clauditorium where Anton's ho-ho-hoing like an angry Santa all the way, trying to repress his fury, and continues his screed about the choreography being the pro's responsibility and the judges needing to just judge Katie on her qualities as a dancer. Be careful what you wish for, Anton: Craig 4, Darcey 6, Len 5, Bruno 5 for a total of 20, a serious drop from last week. Anton promises zero content for next week, and Katie says she had a lovely time learning to cha cha with Anton, and will take on everything they said. And also pray for a partner-swap week like they do on Dancing With The Stars (lol just kidding, please don't do this ever). [Maybe when Kirsty goes out next week or the week after, Anton can get mysteriously injured and Rent-a-Pro Brendan will come to the rescue - Rad]

Kellie and Kevin are next, and in her VT Kellie reveals that they had their own private movie week last week, because Kevin put a couple of moves from Dirty Dancing into their cha cha cha just for her. Oh, Kellie. I like you, please don't be a Dirty Dancing obsessive, that's always such a disappointment. [HUSH YOUR MOUTH - Rad] They're doing a charleston with a Star Wars theme, and their gimmick for their VT is trying on different costumes to see which characters they should be. I'm sure the anti-Clifton brigade would've wanted Kevin to be Jar-Jar, if only for a few seconds. I would've voted for Boba Fett, personally.

It begins with the two of them at the controls of the Millennium Falcon, doing some proper 1980s-Doctor Who-acting in response to getting fired at, and then they run downstairs waving their lightsabres around while the main Star Wars theme plays, before the music transitions into 'Cantina Band' and they start using their lightsabres as canes instead. I really like this routine, but the whole combination of Star Wars and the charleston is so bizarre that it actually makes them both look a bit insane; I find myself wondering if this is what it was like for the viewers at home watching that fateful night in 1978 when CBS aired The Star Wars Holiday Special. It's a winning routine though, and well-performed, although Kellie's footwork isn't quite as sharp as Kevin's, if you really want to split hairs, and maybe it would've been better without the lift at the end where she hangs from his neck by her knees because the process of getting into and out of it is a little ungainly. Still: definitely their best routine to date, possibly even the best routine of the series so far. [It was RIDICULOUS and therefore amazing.  Also, well in sync mostly and the lightsaber canes were genius - Rad]

Tess tells them that the Force is with them tonight, and then tells "Luke" that his father's in the audience as the cameras cut away to someone with a Darth Vader helmet on. I know, I know, cheap gag but I like that they played with their own trope of mentioning people's families all the time. I'm a sucker for self-aware humour, okay? (Although Kevin calls him "Darth From Grimsby", which may be labouring the joke too much.) Darcey tells Kellie she should not be good in week three and that they were mirroring each other perfectly. Len tells Kellie she "put the 'moves' in 'movies'". Bruno said it was full of content and managed not to be overwhelmed by the theming. Craig thought it was clean, tight and precise with fantastic synchronisation and cane work. Kellie is clearly thrilled.

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia tells Kellie that Daniel O'Donnell declared the routine "brilliant", and Kevin says that this was the best week he's ever had on the show, which Kellie agrees with (though obviously she's only been here for three weeks). Scores: eights all round for a total of 32, and Kellie is positively giddy.

Onward to Ainsley and Natalie, whose cha cha cha is themed around penguins and Happy Feet. Natalie decides they should go method for this one and takes him to London Zoo to look at the penguins. I wonder if they ran into Jenna Whittingham? Natalie gets excited when she sees a penguin shaking its tail and walking on the heels of its feet (do penguins even have heels?), because that's the sort of movement she needs Ainsley to be channeling. And that's kind of it. I expected more madness, if I'm honest.

They're dancing to 'Boogie Wonderland' which I'm assured is from Happy Feet (haven't seen it, don't plan to, sorry), so predictably it's more disco than Latin, although because this is original Natalie Lowe choreography, she does at least make sure to include some authentic cha cha cha moves in there. It is quite hard to blend "penguin" and "Latin-American dance" though, so I can't help feeling this is one of the week's harder assignments. It's fabulous fun, although I'm not so sure about the technique.

Len says that performance got his "seal of approval" for the most part, and agrees to gloss over some of the ropier aspects. Bruno says that there was nothing frozen about that performance - but there wasn't enough hip movement, and Ainsley needs to remember to bring the footwork as well as the personality. Ainsley admits that Natalie's been warning him about that all week. Craig calls it a disaster and says that the only good bit was the opening disco section, because the cha cha cha was non-existent. Natalie, in the most Natalie Lowe way imaginable, turns to Ainsley and says "at least something was good!" Darcey says it was first-class entertainment, even with the mistakes, adding that her "most favourite bit was the precussion" (sic) (yes, on both counts) and advises Ainsley to look up rather than stare at his feet.

They waddle up to the Clauditorium where Claudia says Ainsley looked like he was having a great time, and Ainsley says that he was, and he just hopes he'll get a chance to correct that. What, in the dance-off? I mean...if you really want, I guess? Claudia tells us that Natalie's parents are in the audience tonight and the judges deliver their verdict: Craig 3, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 20, the same score they got in week one. "That's what people like!" says Claudia. "A journey! Up, down, up, down..." Doesn't sound terribly confident there, does she?

After a brief interlude in which everyone involved is degraded by a bit where Claudia claims she's been training Brendan-the-dog all week and Brendan plays "fetch" for her (oh dear, oh dear, oh dear), it's time for Georgia and Giovanni. Georgia says she was gutted last week because she did her routine much better in rehearsals, but she's just taking this as inspiration to come back fighting. This week they're doing a rumba to 'Writing's On The Wall' from Spectre, a movie that isn't even out yet, which I guess makes this performance the Fleur East doing 'Uptown Funk' of this year's Strictly? The VT is all about Giovanni trying to convince Georgia he's like James Bond, and her being "comically" unimpressed. I feel like the bickering stuff might work a bit better if these two had a bit more chemistry.

So they're dancing to the worst Bond theme ever recorded by anyone, and there are some good moments here - Georgia has some lovely fluid movements and her shaping is generally excellent. But again it feels like a sequence of individual moments rather than one coherent story, and I'm just still not getting that passionate chemistry from them that you really need to sell a rumba. I'm feeling a bit lost with Georgia at the moment, generally - she clearly has talent and ability, but nothing about any of her routines or this partnership as a whole feels like it has been generating much excitement to me, and I'm starting to wonder if she might just end up getting lost in the shuffle a little bit if she doesn't turn out some sort of showstopping performance soon.

Bruno thought it was "a very, very nice rumba", and I'm guessing that "nice" isn't really the word you want used to sum up your rumba. Unless you're Brendan, of course. He says that the rumba needs to travel through the body, because if you stop and start, the intention weakens. Tess notes that Giovanni is shaking his head, which will be important later. Craig agrees with Bruno, but he loved the clean spins and the strong lines, and the ronde at the end could've been more dynamic. But that's enough about Tess. Darcey says that it had plenty of intensity and she could feel the electricity, but she would only say that with a rumba it needs to be larger and more exaggerated. Over to Len, for his first random stop at a pro of the series: he tells Giovanni that "all that shaking your head gets on my wick, so I'm gonna tell you the truth - too much posturing, posing and larking about. Two opening outs and one forward basic does not constitute a rumba in my world." Fight! Fight! Fight!

Up in the Clauditorium, Claudia tells Giovanni that he made Len angry, and he apologies meekly. I think Giovanni's struggling to figure out what his role is on this show - presumably he thought he was going to be the bad boy, but that's kind of backfired on him now. And I don't think he's got the personality to be all sunshine and rainbows like Pasha and Kevin, so where does he go from here? Georgia says that she loved this routine because she could put "most of my acting" into it. Indeed. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 6, Bruno 7 for a total of 27. I was kind of hoping for a lower score than that for our first Len Strop of the series, to be honest.

Over to Helen and Aljaž next. Helen admits that she was still very nervous last week, but Aljaž says she performed well and he was very proud of her. To help with their prep for Movie Week, Helen invites Aljaž along to the set of Call The Midwife so he can see what the whole filming process is like. Aljaz's reaction face at this point is ADORABLE, the only thing I can compare it to is that grin that Aziz Ansari gives in the opening credits of Parks And Recreation. So they head off to 1960s Poplar (aka 2010s Surrey) and I'm very excited to spot someone I actually know making a cameo appearance - lovely Jeni who does the PR for Call The Midwife gets to beckon Aljaž into hair and wardrobe so he can be made-over into a dapper sixties gentleman. It's a look he carries off well - Helen tells him he looks like Clark Gable, and Aljaž replies "who's that?" Bless. Helen says it was lovely having Aljaž on set and she hopes this has got them in fine form for Movie Week. I assume they did actually train at some point, but we don't get to see it. [I so hope he got to sneak into a scene as an extra - Rad]

They're dancing a foxtrot to 'I Wanna Be Loved By You' from Some Like It Hot, and Helen is clearly loving every minute of being Marilyn Monroe. It's a very elegant performance, and I think this is the most relaxed Helen has looked on the dancefloor so far. There's some lovely flair in the detail of Aljaž's choreography and she delivers it handsomely - so much so that he shouts "yes!" when they're finished.

Craig tells Helen that she was clawing Aljaž's shoulder at one point, but suggests - rather uncertainly - that this may have been something she deliberately chose to do. Helen, without missing a beat: "yes! That's it, it was a character choice." Love Helen. Anyway, Craig thought the whole thing was gorgeous. Darcey tells Helen that this is exactly what she should do in every dance: "play that star character". In which case, I can't wait for her Norma Desmond-themed Argentine tango. Darcey says the gliding was beautiful, and Helen looks a little bit short of breath. Len says that she has clearly worked very hard on her footwork, and Bruno says that it was "classic Hollywood glamour".

In the Clauditorium, Aljaž says that "Marilyn with perfect feet" is just what he wanted. According to some of my more esoteric google hits, he's not alone. Helen says that she loved being able to embody a character that everybody knows. Scores: Craig 8, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 32, putting them in joint first place with Kellie and Kevin.

Next it's the routine we've all been waiting for: Danny Zuko-O'Donnell. Before we get too excited about that, though, I'd just like to give props to whoever was responsible for Kristina's Sandy Olsen makeover, because the hair and the make-up are spot-on. In his trademark monotone, Daniel explains his excitement (/level boredom) at getting such great comments from Craig last week, and tells Craig "I'm on your team from now on." I think that's exactly what Daniel's fans are afraid of. As you'd imagine, the process of Daniel turning into Danny Zuko is quite spectacular - he starts CHEWING GUM and LOOKING IN THE MIRROR and TURNING UP LATE WITH SOME SEEDY-LOOKING MEN IN LEATHER JACKETS IN TOW. He does know he's meant to be Danny Zuko and not John Travolta, right?

They're dancing the cha-cha-cha to 'Summer Nights' and...yep, it's pretty much as magical as I was expecting. There's even a flicker of movement on Daniel's face occasionally! Kristina deserves a lot of credit here because not only has she choreographed a bright, appealing cha cha cha that includes the appropriate amount of Grease references, but her performance as Sandy is also completely winning. Despite being the most unconvincing Danny Zuko I've seen since my teenage drama group's effort (half of our T-Birds, including Danny and Kenickie, were wearing glasses throughout), Daniel actually lets go and has fun with the routine too - he even puts in some sinful hip thrusts, so I hope he went and said a few Hail Marys in his dressing room afterwards.

Darcey says she was watching Daniel have a great time, but it was "a bit soft on the edge". She tells him he needs to exaggerate those moves when he's dancing so that we can all appreciate what he's doing. Len says it was a mix of 'Summer Nights' and Last Of The Summer Wine, but he enjoyed it. Bruno thinks it's all very nice and gentle, but everything Daniel does is starting to look the same - he was skipping through his cha-cha-cha, and apparently that's a big no-no. Also, Daniel went wrong. Craig thought it was very stompy and lacked the hip action, but Daniel remembered the choreography and his timing was good.

Claudia asks Daniel how his first Latin dance felt, and adds that Bruno was rather harsh and seems to have become Craig, or as she put it: "they've had some...weird...thing". It's Movie Week, Claudia, I think you're allowed to reference Freaky Friday. Daniel says he thinks Bruno is jus jelass. Kristina says she's really proud of Daniel and how hard he's been working. Claudia adds that she liked how Daniel was doing the Danny Zuko mouth. Scores: Craig 4, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 5 for a total of 21, their lowest score so far. Daniel tells us that if he makes it to next week, he'll "have to stop stomping". So it's lucky that they're down to do a foxtrot rather than a paso.

Kirsty and Brendan are next. Kirsty says that she loved doing the lifts last week, which she never thought she'd say, because she hates heights. You were about an extra two feet in the air, Kirsty, it was hardly the summit of Ben Nevis. They're re-enacting the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, which explains those costumes and Brendan's earlier humiliation. To gain inspiration into the world of stray dogs, Brendan takes Kirsty to Battersea Cats And Dogs Home, where they are greeted by Paul O'Grady who shrieks "THIS IS MY TURF, CLEAR OFF!" and throws kibble at them. Okay, fine, they pet some adorable dogs, and Kirsty gets all sad because she wuvs them all and wants to take them all home. Or possibly because she's just seen what she'll be wearing for this.

They're dancing an American smooth to 'He's A Tramp', and it actually starts off quite well in a little side-by-side bit, but once they get into hold Kirsty's footwork starts to suffer. That's also the point where I notice that Brendan's costume has A GIANT TAIL and it's pretty difficult to notice anything else after that. Still, it's an improvement on both of Kirsty's previous performances, even if she does slip trying to sit down at the table again at the end.

The first thing they do afterwards is cop to Tess that there was a small wardrobe malfunction where Kirsty got caught in Brendan's tail (STEADY) during the dismount from the second lift. I didn't think it was particularly noticeable, but perhaps that's just because I find Kirsty a bit wobbly in general anyway? Tess is all "well, if you WILL insist on dressing up as dogs", like she's just discovered their accounts on The Yiff Gallery (yes, I looked that up, and yes, I'm fearful as to what it will do to my Google ads) [Mine just advertise my work place over and over again, which feels a bit 1984 - Rad]. Len says he thinks it was a more confident performance, but he spotted the problems with the second lift. He thinks it could have done with more fluidity in the arms, but it was an improvement on last week. Bruno commends Brendan for getting results out of Kirsty this week with some rather ill-chosen metaphors about "keeping her under(?) a tight leash with a firm hand" where it risks getting a bit EL James. Craig says it needed more flow and grace, and he thinks that's due to Kirsty's balance issues, while her arms are "devoid of emotion and feeling", but Brendan promises to work on that. Darcey says that Kirsty's nerves have gone and she's in control now, and compliments her on pulling off a look that most people couldn't. Or indeed, wouldn't.

Up in the DIZZYING HEIGHTS of the Clauditorium, Kirsty says she thought it was going well but she did get thrown when she got all tangled, though she thought she picked it all up again. She says that she felt very different out there. I wonder why. Claudia says that Brendan's little girl is at home and so excited to see Daddy dressed as a dog, and Kirsty's all "er, I've got kids too, you know". Heh. Claudia asks Kirsty if this look was the sort of thing she pictured when she signed up, and Kirsty plays along, saying that she's been a dog all day and it's actually been kind of fun, if slightly weird. Scores: Craig 5, Darcey 6, Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 23 - their highest score so far. Brendan says that he's sweltering in this outfit. [I was trying to figure out what the make-up reminded me of, other than my nightmares, and I think it's Cats.  Oh, and ALW, I'm trademarking the spin-off Dogs musical idea RIGHT NOW.  You may secure my services as a judge on the talent show to find its stars should you wish - Rad]

Peter and Janette are on next with their Pirates Of The Caribbean themed paso double, prompting Tess to say that "this could be the week we finally see his treasured chest". It's only week three, Thirsty, maybe you should calm down. Last week Peter was pleased to be at the top of the leaderboard, so proud, loves his kids, etc. For his training, Janette takes him on board a ship where he dons a silly pirate costume that looks like something they would have abandoned in the out-of-town tryouts for The Village People, and prances around with a stuffed parrot that keeps imitating Craig. I think we're fast approaching Donovan-in-a-supermarket levels of comedy VT here, you guys. The only way is up.

Their paso opens with Peter swinging in rather limply on a rope, although once they take hold it becomes one of Peter's more immediately likeable dances. His shaping is good and so is his timing, but my main beef with it is that I think the theming swamps the choreography on a few occasions: Peter doesn't really get to do much other than be a frame for Janette, and on the rare occasions when he's out of hold and getting to do something in his own right, it all becomes a bit swish-arm-piratey rather than a proper paso. It's a minor gripe, but it would have been nice to see him get to do a bit more. Also, there are still some moments where his movement is arguably more pop video than Strictly Come Dancing, and I think Janette should start clamping down on that.

Bruno credits Peter for having the "barmy and wacky energy of Captain Sparrow", but says that while it was a crowdpleaser, Peter needs to be careful that he's not losing the posture and the shaping of the paso. Craig agrees that Peter has a tendency to lose his neck, but he thought it was strong and well-focused. Darcey loved the conviction and the drama - the one bit that distracted her was when they were mirroring each other in a walk, which she thought was a bit "dumpy". Len tells Peter that he's no sparrow, he's an EAGLE, and that it was nutty and wacky and great. Odd for Len to mention nuts without any threat of pickling them.

After they climb up into the crow's nest -- er, the Clauditorium -- Claudia tells us that Peter's parents are in the audience tonight and celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. They're just normal folks, love their kids, you know? Peter says he asked his dad how they've managed to make it last for 60 years, and his dad said "we haven't spoken for 40 of them". And people wonder why some find Peter Andre insincere, eh? Peter says he had a great time this week, and loves learning all the techniques and taking on all the judges' feedback to help him improve in the future and dial it down a bit, sheesh. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 28. Peter's lowest score, but "of course" he's happy with it.

Following a brief interlude where Claudia pulls various phallic-shaped objects out of an upturned top hat on the table in front of her, it's time for Jamelia and Tristan. Jamelia says that she felt nervous last week because she was opening the show, but she really felt like the dance was going well - until the judges started giving their feedback. She was gutted to end up in the dance-off, and vows to do everything she can not to end up back there. Tristan tells Jamelia that for Movie Week they'll be doing a Charlie's Angels themed salsa. He's going to be Charlie, and will set her a series of technique-based missions over the week and expects her to drop everything and do them whenever he calls. Charlie's Angels really was horrifically sexist, wasn't it? So Tristan proceeds to give Jamelia all of her tuition over the phone, and if nothing else I'm sure all of the Tristfans out there will seize upon this VT as incontrovertible evidence that Jamelia is a TERRIBLE PERSON and Tristan CAN'T EVEN BEAR TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM AS HER #FREETRISTAN and he's TRYING TO DO AS LITTLE TRAINING WITH HER AS POSSIBLE and of course that all of this would be JAMELIA'S FAULT SOMEHOW and not, y'know, Tristan being an unprofessional twit. FIRE HER INTO AN ACTIVE VOLCANO, IT'S WHAT SHE DESERVES!!!!111!! (Why yes, I have encountered a few of Tristan's more devoted fans on the internet this week and incurred their wrath when I dared to suggest that he's not actually very good, why do you ask?) [I miss Trent - Rad]

They're dancing to 'Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel''s a mess. She's rather stompy and her footwork seems quite muddled a lot of the time, the floor spin is a brave effort until Jamelia makes an absolute hash getting out of it, the choreography is largely terrible but the blame can't lie entirely at Tristan's door because Jamelia seems to be making large chunks of it up on the spot anyway, as demonstrated when Tristan actually ends up pulling her into place by her hair when she's not in the right place for a neck drop. Ouchie. Her mic's up in time for us to hear her apologising at the end for messing up, OH MY GOD WHAT A TOTAL BITCH NO WONDER HE HATES HER!!!!111!!!

Craig declares it "a little bit rough around the edges", saying that she got rather stuck in each bit rather than flowing throughout the dance, and she didn't really get the figure-of-eight movement going in the hips. He also tells her to keep her legs together getting into the lifts, which makes Jamelia giggle again, and Tess squeals "ANY POSITIVES?" a bit manically, at which point Craig, who's just spent the best part of a minute listing how Jamelia essentially failed at every aspect of this routine, tells her that "this is your dance". How encouraging for the future! Darcey tells Jamelia that she oozes fabulous rhythm and has a natural ability (I'm taking that as a "natural rhythm" shout-out and drinking anyway because I'm over 90 minutes into this thing and good golly I need one) - she just needs to recover more quickly when things go wrong, but it was a more confident performance. Len says it wasn't quite "mission accomplished", but there was lots more energy and enthusiasm, and he loves that she came out and really went for it. Bruno calls her an "angel with a little devil inside her", and he thinks that she's overthinking it - she needs to be in the moment rather than worrying about what comes next.

They head up to the Clauditorium, and you can tell Jamelia was hoping for that to go a lot better than it actually did, but Tristan's all smiles and saying "improvement, improvement, improvement!" which is sweet. Jamelia says it's fantastic to get good comments, but her aim is to try and get better and she hopes the judges are seeing that. Tristan says that he's proud of her, and she's getting better every week. Scores: Craig 6 (to which a visibly shocked Jamelia actually says "oh my god!"), Darcey 7 (Jamelia: "OH MY GOD!!!"), Len 6, Bruno 6 for a total of 25. Jamelia giggles that she's going to cry, and says that she's really chuffed and she "only wanted one more point", and instead she got four. I like Jamelia, and I want her to do well, and even I was kind of surprised with the generosity of those scores. Still, anything that keeps her out of the dance-off is good with me.

Three more to go, everyone! We can do it! Jeremy and Karen are next, having miraculously survived last week. Jeremy's disappointed not to have had a breakthrough with Craig yet, but is at least happy to have impressed Len with a heel lead last week. This week he's got the charleston, and has brought his brother Tim Vine along to training to show him how to be wacky and that. He doesn't really seem to have a lot to add, in all honesty, other than suggesting that Jeremy could do a few The Office style looks straight down the camera to acknowledge his own ridiculousness. Tim says that he'll be very proud of Jeremy whatever he does in the competition.

They're dancing to 'Top Hat, White Tie And Tails' from Top Hat, and obviously I know the costume is pretty much dictated by the song choice but it makes for a strange disconnect to see someone dressed like that for a charleston. It somehow makes the whole thing look more penguin-y than Ainsley's cha cha cha did. It's a bit lifeless for a charleston and Jeremy doesn't really have the flexibility to bend in the right way for this dance [Where were the 'Charleston is HARD for TALL MEN' critiques from Darcey and Len? - Rad], but he's giving it his best shot and that's all we can ask.

The audience whoop and Karen shouts "that's for you! That's for you!" I think he probably spotted that, dear. Darcey says that he tightened up his long, tight limbs (oo-er) and it worked - he's still unusual, but entertaining, and he's clearly worked hard. Len says there was a bit of Hollywood and a touch of Borehamwood, but he thought it was genius. Bruno thinks Jeremy has become the king of funny walks, and says "Terry Gilliam could not have drawn this dance better". Definitely file that one under 'unusual compliments'. Craig calls it "bizarre" and "dancing by numbers", saying that it looked like Jeremy was being operated by strings.

In the Clauditorium, Jeremy says that there are "no hard feelings" with Craig and that he's sure they'll find agreement one day and maybe get that 4. You can tell time is getting tight because Claudia starts talking nineteen to the dozen about Jeremy practising with his wife in the kitchen, and then the scores are in: Craig 3, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 7 for a total of 24. That must be the biggest chasm between Craig's score and everyone else's in a while, surely? Claudia cackles at Karen's gleeful reaction and says that she's seen people less excited when they got 40.

Our penultimate couple for the night is Anita and Gleb. They were both very happy with the judges' comments last week [What, even Len's random 'there was no Charleston content' snitfit? - Rad], and in particular Anita hopes to live up to Darcey's comment about there not being a dance that she can't make her own. This week they're doing a Ghost-themed American smooth Viennese waltz, so Gleb decides they should go and learn how to do pottery. There's a comedy bit where Anita presents something lumpy and misshapen while Gleb's effort is perfect and flawless because of his "magic hands". Anita predicts that her dancing will be at least 100 per cent better than her pottery skills.

So of course they're dancing to 'Unchained Melody', and I think these two probably had the least successful theme makeovers for the night. Anita's wig definitely makes her look more like Flavia than Demi Moore, and clean-shaven Gleb just looks like one of the Synths from Humans. There's a lot of a wafting and a bit of an awkward lift to begin with, and it all feels a bit more contemporary than Viennese waltz in places. It occurs to me that even though we're in week three, this is actually the first time we've seen Anita dance ballroom and I think this may end up being her weaker area - it's not bad, at all, but to my eyes it's less polished and precise than either of her previous routines. Also, I think Gleb is trying to help her deliver on her promise by trusting her with complicated choreography, but on this occasion I think he may have given her a little bit too much for her current level of ability. There's also a fairly terrifying bit where Anita lies on the floor and Gleb crawls over her like a demonic spider while she grabs the back of his neck and is pulled along with him - it's possible that that's a Ghost reference, I've not seen the film, but either way it looked a bit creepy and wrong. Despite all of that, I think Anita's a wonderfully expressive dancer and where she slips back in technique here, she makes up ground in her sheer ability to sell what she's doing.

Tess asks what that move was that so terrified me, and Gleb grins that it's called a "Gleb special". Hmm. I don't think I'll be ordering one of those, thanks. Len laughs that Gleb "flew across the floor like a rampant crab", and says that if it had been any more theatrical he wouldn't have liked it, but it was pitched just right with just enough dancing to keep him on side. Bruno says he liked that Anita was totally committed to the character and performance, but advises Anita to let her movements breathe when they're doing contempo-wafting and stuff. Craig thinks it lacked finesse, but that's mostly just a lack of experience, but he loved the contemporary Viennese approach to it, and he thought the crawling across the floor was great. Tess asked Darcey if she enjoyed the Gleb special, and Darcey gets a bit evasive and non-committal before stating that she preferred the lift coming out of it. She thinks Anita handled a very difficult dance very well, and seemed to really get what the dance was about. She agrees with Bruno though, that Anita needs to extend her lines properly and take her time over them.

In the Clauditorium, Anita says "we know about the arms" in a manner that suggests she has indeed been warned about this already, and says that they're working on them. Claudia expresses her concern about the Gleb special, saying that she thought he'd just fallen over and she's glad he's not hurt. Scores: Craig 6, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 7 for a total of 29 - a new high score for them, and Anita's pleased. Claudia says that a 6 feels a bit mean, but Anita says she just needs to work on the arms.

So of course that means we have Jay and Aliona closing the show with their Pulp Fiction-themed jive. Jay was really pleased with how the waltz went last week, and Aliona was impressed with the scoring (possibly because she scored more than that one night than she normally scores in an entire series). In training Aliona explains the theme and how Jay's character is meant to have a ponytail, and Jay's all " know we could have done that before you cut my hair, right?" Aliona takes Jay off to Ed's diner to get into the mood, and I assume that everything that follows is one long Pulp Fiction reference because I haven't seen the film (I know, I know) and I don't really understand any of it, so that's the solution that pains me the least.

Okay, so you know how most of us were complaining that we didn't really get a "moment" last week? Well, it's seven days overdue, but here it is: they start out mimicking the famous dance sequence between John Travolta and Uma Thurman as 'You Never Can Tell' plays, before suddenly picking up into sharp and energetic jive sequence and then into more of a wafty bit (dead technical, that's me) and then resuming the mimicking of Pulp Fiction. Then the band transitions into 'Misirlou' and all hell breaks loose as Jay and Aliona break into one of the sharpest, cleanest, most energetic and damn impressive jives I've seen on this show in a long time. The choreography is incredibly detailed and complicated and Jay is keeping up with Aliona all the way through. I don't think I've been this impressed with a male jive since Scott Maslen, and that wasn't until week seven. [I LOVED this.  Wasn't feeling him last week, but I am on board with this one.  And how delicious would it be if Aliona, of all people, got to be the first pro to win twice? - Rad]

The audience goes wild, of course, and Jay's mum is there in tears. Bruno's out of his seat and calls it "the blockbuster everyone was waiting for". He says that Jay outdanced everyone here tonight and then winds up by calling it the "best dance ever", which I get the feeling he probably regretted a little bit even as he was saying it, but he hadn't really left himself anywhere to go. Craig says that is a level of technique that they have "never seen ever" in a male celebrity. Darcey tells Jay he's the coolest guy in the competition and she doesn't know how he manages to bring so much sex appeal to the jive. Len says it was the best dance so far "this season", because he's still a little bit in Dancing With The Stars mode.

Up in the Clauditorium, everyone's screaming and celebrating and Jay and Aliona don't even get to say anything before the scores are revealed: Craig 9, Darcey "as it's week three, it's a 9", Len 9, Bruno 10 for a total of 37. The Clauditorium positively erupts at this, and rightly so, because it's the highest week three score in the show's history. (Also, Darcey, it's either a nine or it's not, please don't with this "as it's week three" business.) [Seriously.  If a dance is a 40 in week one, it's a 40.  See also if it's a 20 in the final - Rad]

So, here's the Movie Week leaderboard:

1. Jay & Aliona - 37
2=. Kellie & Kevin - 32
2=. Helen & Aljaž - 32
4. Anita & Gleb - 29
5. Peter & Janette - 28
6. Georgia & Giovanni - 27
7. Jamelia & Tristan - 25
8. Jeremy & Karen - 24
9. Kirsty & Brendan - 23
10. Daniel & Kristina - 21
11=. Katie & Anton - 20
11=. Ainsley & Natalie - 20
13. Anthony & Oti - 19
14. Carol & Pasha - 17

After a recap of this evening's performances (this show is over two hours long, I am not recapping the recap, are you some sort of sadist?), Tess and Claudia implore us to vote, and also to return for tomorrow night's results show where Andrea Bocelli will be performing. And I will be recapping it as soon as I regain the sensation in my fingers.

No comments: